The UEFA Champions League is in our DNA. Back in school, when the rest of our peers were hoofing it to their mid-afternoon classes, we hung back to watch the original Galacticos put an historic hurting on Manchester United in 2000. We ran around the room after Zidane's volley in the '02 final and remember a time when English clubs were the whipping boys of Europe. Yeah we've seen it all—well, as much as we could see back then given the limited access on these shores. We were glued to the box when Bayern Munich rose from 1999's rubble; when plucky Valencia made consecutive finals appearances; and when a magical midget named Messi burst onto the scene for FC Barcelona.
We knew you could relate. So before Man U-Barca kicks off Saturday afternoon, we cooked up a little treat to hold you over. Our Greatest Champions League Players of the 21st Century video gallery ranks all the greatest players the American viewing audience has been exposed to since 2000. Don't expect to see old heads like Di Stefano, Eusebio, Cruyff, or Beckenbauer on our list. We selected players the die-hard footy fan in the States has actually seen play. Legends like Zidane, Henry, Figo, Lamps, and Rooney...and a few more you might not expect, just to keep you on your toes.
See? All those days of ditching lectures did pay off. So sit up and pay attention; class is now session.